Best Satellite for Tailgating 2021 & Setup [DIRECTV & DISH]


Setting up satellite for tailgating isn’t as complicated as it once was. If you are searching for DIRECTV for tailgating or for DISH for tailgating, both satellite companies have options, but I have found DISH Network to have the simplest option.

You can purchase the DISH Network Playmaker Bundle, which is a portable easy-to-setup satellite that can be combined with Dish’s month-to-month pay-as-you-go plans that don’t require a contract. Here’s the 3 steps to follow to get this done:

*This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. (info)

  • STEP 1First you need to buy the equipment, which you can get at Amazon – This is the exact link at Amazon where I bought my DISH playmaker bundle (affiliate link takes you to Amazon).  The bundle comes with the satellite antenna, the DISH Wally receiver, HDMI cables, AV cables, power cord, remote, and instructions. If that is out of stock, you can also use a King Satellite DISH bundle. Click here to view the King Tailgater Bundle with Dish Receiver (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
  • STEP 2 – Next, sign up for DISH pay-as-you-go planThis is where you can find the available plans at DISH Network’s website. If you are a current DISH customer, you may not need to select a new plan (I would contact DISH after you buy the equipment). If you are not an existing DISH customer, this is such an awesome option.  Literally cancel any month you want, then reactivate at any time. It is perfect for tailgating season.
  • STEP 3 – Buy a tripod support stand – I suggest buying the support tripod which is easy to setup and makes your satellite stable. This is the exact tripod support that I bought from Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon). These support tripods are literally made for portable satellites. You could always chance it and place it on a table, but I would advise you to just buy the tripod support.

Again, in my opinion this is the simplest way to get satellite for tailgating. Here is a look at my Dish Playmaker Bundle that I bought from Amazon:

dish-playmaker-tailgate-tv-setup-bundle-2

Here’s what the portable satellite for tailgating looks like when it is setup on the tripod I bought:

dish-playmaker-tailgate-tv-setup

Yes, if you are wanting to use DirecTV for tailgating, you do have options, but I have found them not to be as simple as the Dish Network option above. In this article I want to discuss all of your options for getting satellite for tailgating. We will go over Dish Network tailgating options and DirecTV tailgating options in further detail. We will also discuss other ways you can setup TV at your tailgate this season.

How To Get Satellite at a Tailgate

To get a satellite for tailgating, you’ll first need to choose between DISH Network and DIRECTV. In my opinion, DISH Network is the better option for tailgating. (Yes, you will need to subscribe to one of these two providers. There is no free satellite service for you to use.)

DISH Network for Tailgating

DISH Network offers two types of portable satellites: the DISH Playmaker and the DISH Tailgater. These two are produced by different companies (Playmaker by Wineguard and Tailgater by King) but they are very similar. I recommend the DISH Playmaker bundle because it is a bit cheaper and still has everything you need.

Here’s a look at mine:

This portable satellite for tailgating is much different than the satellites you are used to seeing in backyards and neighborhoods. Click here on this link to view the unique design of the DISH Playmaker available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon).

To set up DISH for tailgating, you will need 5 basic things:

  • Satellite
  • Receiver
  • Channel package plan
  • Power source to power the receiver
  • Clear access to the southern sky

Again, DISH offers the satellite and the receiver in a packaged bundle. The HD receiver that you use with DISH portable satellites is called the Wally. And, of course, even after you purchase the bundle, you will still need a channel package plan. You have two options for channel packages:

1. Add On Existing Service: If you are an existing DISH customer, then you can pay a small fee to make your current plan also usable with the portable satellite (when I called it was like $7 extra, but pricing obviously can change). Now, to be clear, that small extra fee is to make your current plan also work through the new portable satellite, it is not to cover the cost of the Playmaker bundle – you will also need to pay for the satellite bundle. So, the small fee is in addition to the cost of the bundle.

2. Pay-as-you-go Plans: Probably the coolest thing about tailgate satellite setup right now is the fact that DISH Network offers pay-as-you-go month-to-month plans for those of you who are not current DISH subscribers. That means you can 1) buy the satellite bundle and then 2) pick a channel plan and pay it month-to-month with no long term contract needed.

Here’s how the month-to-month plans at DISH work: You simply pick a channel package plan from this list. Then you pay your bill which gives you access to the package for 30 days. To continue the plan, you keep paying. To terminate the plan, you stop paying.

If you don’t pay, then whenever you want the plan to reactivate, you simply pay again. So you could even do something like 30 days on, 10 days off, 30 days on if it made sense for you. Just remember, whenever you pay, it gives you 30 days of service.

What is cool about this too is you might get lucky and be able to pull up your home game schedule and perhaps it fits where you can cancel for a couple weeks while the team is on the road, then re-up when you need it again. Obviously, this will depend on the schedule and your preferences, but at least the option exists.

The month-to-month packages of DISH Network just really gives you a ton of flexibility and doesn’t get you locked up into a plan you are only going to use for a few months a year. Let’s take a closer look at what you will need to setup a DISH Playmaker satellite for tailgating.

Dish Playmaker Mounting Options

To mount the DISH Playmaker satellite for tailgating (or the DISH Tailgater if you choose that bundle instead) you have a few options:

  • Tripod – This may be the “proper” way to do it, but the other options below can work as well. Here’s the benefit of a tripod: it keeps the satellite antenna very stable and it also allows you to set it up in a convenient place (versus placing it on a table or truck tailgate which may be in the way). Here is an affiliate link to a mounting tripod for the DISH Playmaker availabe at Amazon.
  • Table or Tailgate – Many people will just set their satellite antenna on a table or a truck tailgate. Here’s the thing, it will need to be stable and have clear access to the southern sky. Will this option work? Likely, yes. It’s probably not as trustworthy as buying a tripod support, but if you have the proper setup, this option should work without issue.
  • Roof Mounting – Roof mounting a satellite for tailgating makes much more sense for an RV. I don’t tailgate with an RV, but obviously some people do. If you do, roof mounting may be your best option.

DISH Playmaker Setup

All things considered, setting up the DISH Playmaker satellite for tailgating is really quite simple. Let’s go through some of the setup procedures so that you have a better idea of what it takes.

Connecting DISH Antenna to Satellite

Remember, as we discussed earlier in the article, another very cool thing about the DISH Playmaker (and the DISH Tailgater) portable satellite antennas is it automatically connects to the orbiting satellite. This means it won’t be you, over there by yourself ‘left-righting’ the dang thing for 45 minutes while people keep asking if “you’ve found it yet?” – which is a nice bonus.

What you do need is clear access to the southern sky. Mountains, trees, building, stadiums etc., can cause issues so make sure your tailgating location will have proper access.

Basic Setup

Here is how the DISH Playmaker plus Wally HD receiver works:

  • The Wally HD receiver is plugged into a power supply. Power cord comes with Wally HD receiver.
  • From the Wally receiver you run coax cable to the DISH Playmaker antenna, which connects the satellite signal to the receiver and also powers the Playmaker antenna. 25 feet of coax cables comes with the DISH Playmaker which is linked above (DISH Tailgater has 35 feet coax provided).
  • To get the signal from the receiver to your TV, you preferably run HDMI cable out from the receiver into the back of the TV. You also have the option of using audio video cables, but HDMI is recommended. An HDMI cord comes with the DISH Playmaker bundle linked above.
  • Once you have both the receiver and the TV connected to a power supply, you then simply turn on the receiver, select your current state, and press “scan” to start scanning for satellite acquisition. Once signal is acquired, the program guide should download and setup is complete.

The Wally HD receiver does come with a remote control. It does not come with DVR, although DVR extenders are available for purchase as add-ons if that is something you are interested in.

Transporting the DISH Antenna

You will need to consider if transporting the antenna to and from the game will cause a problem. The DISH Playmaker satellite for tailgating is one of the smallest sized portable antennas on the market. It weighs 7 pounds but does take up a bit of space.

The dimensions of the DISH Playmaker antenna (made by Wineguard) are: Diameter – 16″; Height – 13″.

If your SUV is already full of tables, chairs, coolers, and other tailgating accessories, finding an extra couple feet of space may be a pain, so make sure you consider if transporting your satellite for tailgating will be a problem.

DISH Playmaker Conclusion

The DISH Playmaker bundle gives you access to HD satellite programming combined with flexible pay-as-you-go month-to-month channel package plans, which really makes DISH the best option for getting satellite at your tailgate. Simply cancel the service after 30 days if you no longer need it, while still having the option to start service back up at any time.

The DISH Playmaker also has a dual 2 receiver upgrade package in case you are wanting to power two TV’s at your tailgate. DISH does also offer the DISH tailgater (which may be a better option if you have an RV), but for strictly tailgating purposes, the cheaper Playmaker is my recommendation. If you want to price the DISH Tailgater bundle at Amazon, click on this link (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).

DIRECTV for Tailgating

If you have DIRECTV and are wanting to setup DIRECTV for tailgating, your pathway to making that happen will be a bit more complicated than the DISH network options listed above, but certainly not impossible.

As mentioned earlier in the article, I recommend the DISH Playmaker as the best option for tailgate satellite setup. But one huge advantage for using DIRECTV is you get access to NFL Sunday Ticket, which is exclusive only to DIRECTV. If you are wanting Sunday Ticket for your NFL tailgate, that means the tailgate satellite setup you use will need to be through DIRECTV.

In this section we will explore DIRECTV for tailgating and help you understand what your best options will be, and what issues you may be up against.

Why Is DIRECTV Tailgate Satellite Setup Harder?

There are a few reasons why setting up satellite for tailgate is harder if you plan to use DIRECTV versus if you plan to use DISH Network. Here are the biggest reasons why DIRECTV setup is harder:

  • Bundles – DIRECTV does not offer tailgating satellite kit bundles like DISH Network does. What does this mean? It means you will have to go buy a portable satellite from a 3rd party provider on your own, then combine it with an eligible DIRECTV receiver and plan.
  • No Flexible Packages – Another issue is DIRECTV does not offer the month-to-month pay-as-you-go channel package options that DISH Network does. So, with DIRECTV, that means you will either need to lock into a long-term contract, or buy the equipment (like the receiver), instead of renting it. If you own the equipment you would not necessarily be locked into a long-term contract and could therefore cancel at any time.
  • High Def – Not all the eligible portable satellites offer high definition for DIRECTV, although we do have one option listed below that does (but it also has some drawbacks). This can be a bummer for many sports fans who prefer HD viewing.
  • Receivers – Even if you are already a current subscriber to DIRECTV, not all receivers are compatible with portable satellites. You will need to call and confirm with DIRECTV that your current receiver works for the portable antenna that you choose.

The fact that DIRECTV doesn’t have a portable satellite bundle just makes the process a bit clumsier for you because it is not as simple as clicking over to the DIRECTV website and buying a bundle and a plan in 10 minutes. You will need to search for a portable satellite for tailgating on your own, then contact DIRECTV to either setup a plan, or see if your current plan and equipment are eligible to be used with the portable satellite.

Let’s discuss the eligbile portable satellites for DIRECTV so that you can narrow it down to one that works for you. Again, contacting DIRECTV before purchase would be wise just to confirm that your current plan and equipment will be eligible for the antenna that you choose.

Finding a DIRECTV Eligible Portable Satellite for Tailgating

DIRECTV does not sell tailgate satellite kit bundles on its website, so your task – if you choose to use DIRECTV – is to buy a portable satellite from a 3rd party provider and then combine that portable satellite with an eligible plan and receiver.

No matter which portable satellite for tailgating you choose from the list below, I highly recommend contacting DIRECTV and making sure that your current receiver is compatible with that specific antenna.

Where can you find a portable satellite for tailgating to use with DIRECTV? Well, DIRECTV lists here its main distributors for portable satellites, but in this article we are going to focus on three specific distributors:

  • Winegard
  • King
  • Satellite Oasis

Winegard and King are the two most common distributors of portable satellite antennas common to RV’s and tailgating, so we are going to focus on them first. For reference, DISH Network uses Wineguard for its DISH Playmaker bundle (the satellite kit we recommend for tailgating) and King for its DISH Tailgater bundle.

The problem is neither King nor Winegard makes a satellite that is HD compatible with DIRECTV. So all of the King and Winegard options (which are the easiest to setup and transport) only come in standard definition with DIRECTV.

Both King and Winegard offer HD with DISH Network as part of the tailgating satellite kit bundles, but they only offer standard definition with DIRECTV, which might be a bummer if you were wanting DIRECTV. Here are your best options for DIRECTV for tailgating:

Standard Definition Only

The bad news with these two options is they are standard definition only, but the good news is they do automatically acquire satellite signal so you don’t have to manually align for signal. Links for each antenna are in their descriptions.

  • KING VQ4100 – Standard Definition only for DIRECTV. Does automatically acquire satellite signal. Setup very similar to the DISH Playmaker described earlier in article. Antenna powered through coax. 50 feet of coax supplied with antenna. Has a portable carry handle. Has output to support two TVs. Roof mountable. You can view this antenna at Amazon by clicking on this link (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
  • Winegard GM-9000 – Standard Definition only for DIRECTV. Automatically acquires satellite signal. Setup very similar to DISH Playmaker discussed earlier in article. Antenna powered through coax. 25 feet of coax supplied. Only supports 1 TV. You can view the current price of this antenna at Amazon by clicking on this link (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).

High Definition Option

Yes, there is a high definition option, which means you can get DIRECTV in HD and get the NFL Sunday Ticket for tailgating. So this is a perfect option, right? Well, unfortunately there is one major drawback to using this satellite for tailgating: it does not automatically acquire satellite signal, meaning you will have to spend time manually aligning it yourself. Let’s take a closer look at this satellite made by Satellite Oasis:

  • Satellite Oasis HD Kit – Standard satellite antenna that must be mounted to tripod. Tripod is included, however if on pavement you may need sandbags to anchor for stability. This kit comes with applicable accessories needed to align satellite to acquire signal, including an instruction manual. It does support DIRECTV HD, but you will need to verify with DIRECTV that your current DIRECTV receiver is compatible with this satellite. Comes with 50 feet of coax. This will weigh more and is bigger than some of the other options in this article. To view this satellite available at Amazon and to read some of the user reviews, click on this link (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).

DISH vs DIRECTV for Tailgating

As I have stated throughout the article, my recommendation for tailgate satellite setup is the DISH Playmaker kit, which comes with an HD receiver and allows you access to DISH Networks pay-as-you-go programming package to avoid a long-term contract.

But when comparing DISH vs DIRECTV for tailgating, it obviously matters whether or not you already have a subscription to one of these two providers. If you are already a DIRECTV subscriber, it may be worth the little bit extra of hassle to buy one of their eligible antennas and use the receiver from your house (again, verify your current receiver is eligible to be used with the antenna you choose).

Here are the main takeaways for comparing DISH vs DIRECTV for tailgating:

Summary DISH for Tailgating

  • DISH Network kit bundles make purchasing easy
  • HD eligible
  • Antennas included in kits will automatically acquire satellite signal
  • Lightweight antennas
  • Pay-as-you-go plans to avoid long term contracts when purchasing a satellite for tailgating

Summary DIRECTV for Tailgating

  • Access to NFL Sunday Ticket
  • HD not supported in most portable antennas
  • HD option requires manual satellite alignment
  • No pay-as-you-go plans, so long term contract may be needed

Other Tailgating TV Options

You do have other TV options outside of just satellite for tailgating. You can use a digital TV antenna or even use a Smart TV and setup a private hotspot with your smart phone so that you can connect the Smart TV to the internet and stream TV. If you already have a subscription to a streaming service like HULU or Sling TV, setting up a hotspot might be your cheapest and best option.


If you are hosting a tailgate party, here are some of our other resources to help you get the party going in the right direction:

Paul Johnson

Paul has been with us from our beginnings. He focuses on a wide range of sports, including NFL, NBA, MLB and golf.

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